Minaret Photography » Mammoth Lakes California Wedding and Portrait Photography

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell Bio PhotoHistory of Minaret Photography

I started Minaret Photography with Josh Hejl just after finishing Journalism school at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2008.

Josh and I both landed in Reno from mountain-town roots, and bonded over a passion for skiing.

We were in our mid-20s, an age when many of our friends were getting married. We began to take notice of the photographers at these weddings and decided we both wanted to shoot some weddings and see if we enjoyed it.

We worked our way into a few weddings that summer and a few years later we were spending most of our summers traveling to weddings between Los Angeles and Napa, Mammoth and Lake Tahoe.

In late 2014, Josh returned to his hometown of Palmer, Alaska, to further pursue his photography endeavors. Check out his awesome portrait/skiing/landscape/outdoor photography galleries right here.

With Josh’s move, Minaret Photography’s base is now 100-percent in Mammoth, though we’ll continue to travel to awesome destinations for weddings and portraits.


Brandon Russell

I’ve learned not to say “never” but I think I’ll always be in Mammoth. I can be on Mammoth Mountain to ski or ride my bike within 10 minutes from home, which is about all I need to be happy.

I live here with my beautiful wife Jen, whom I met while studying abroad in San Sebastian, Spain, in 2004. Jen is a special education teacher at the high school in Mammoth and also studied at UNR. We have three big Chihuahuas, one of whom is a minor Instagram celebrity (in his own mind). Check him out at @Giuseppe_the_xl_Chihuahua.

I also spend half the week working in Bishop with Mammoth Mountain founder Dave McCoy. Dave, who will be 100 in 2015, has been in the Eastern Sierras since the 1930s. He sold the ski resort just as I was wrapping up my college education in 2005  and was given a Canon digital camera for his 90th birthday. He asked me to come down and give him a hand with it one afternoon and now, a decade later, we’ve spent countless hours creating a website and Facebook page featuring Dave’s own images, as well as archiving the photo and video archive of Mammoth Mountain and the fascinating McCoy family. Check out the aforementioned Dave McCoy Facebook page to see some of that archival work.


Our Work

We established Minaret Photography around weddings but, as all driven creatives should do, the scope has evolved to be something much bigger.

Engagement and Trash the Dress sessions provide an incredible opportunity to explore location and lighting ideas that wedding schedules don’t give us time for.  Check out the Engagement and Trash the Dress galleries for some ideas of the diverse and cinematic images we can create in just an afternoon.

Editorial projects, models and boudoir sessions are also an integral part of our work.  There’s nothing more challenging or rewarding than planning and producing a styled shoot with hair and makeup artists, lighting technicians and models and clients. Check out the Models and Editorial gallery to see some of our more creative and detailed portrait work.


Our Style

The Eastern Sierras are a wedding destination, people travel from all over the world to get married here. The primary reason for that is Mammoth’s incredible alpine backdrop.

The mountains, forests and lakes are what bring people here to get married, so that’s an integral part of our style. We integrate wide-angle landscape images with creatively-lit portraiture in a style that’s all our own.

Though I operate Minaret Photography on my own in Mammoth, I’ve got a great team of photographers and lighting assistants here that help me create incredible images.

Although Mammoth is located right in the middle of the state, the region’s identity was built and maintained by Southern California. As such, we shoot several weddings and portrait sessions every year between Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. We’ve also shot weddings in Mexico and Nicaragua. The mountains are my home and it’s where I’ve developed my style, but I love creating portraits in the diffuse, brilliant light that is only found on the coast.


On the Web

You’ve found your way Minaret Photography’s home base, but look for us on social media for updates posted several times per week. We’re most active on Instagram at @Minaretphoto

and Facebook at Facebook.com/minaretphotography.